ANDERSON, S.C. – After setting the South Atlantic Conference record in league ties in 2013, Anderson University women’s soccer will seek victories in 2014 as first-year head coach Ciaran Traquair announced his 2014 schedule on Tuesday, headlined by 13 of AU’s 17 regular season matches being played in the Palmetto State.
The Trojans will host nine home contests, including five matches featuring SAC opponents and a rekindling of the long-standing rivalry against archrival Erskine. With the majority of this year’s schedule being played inside the state of South Carolina, Anderson will have to travel outside of the state just three times in 2014.
After beginning the year with two exhibitions at Young Harris (Aug. 23) and at home against Limestone (Aug. 27), AU begins its 2014 slate at Trojan Stadium on Sept. 4 when it welcomes Southern Wesleyan for a 5 p.m. kickoff. SWU will be in its first transitional year as it makes the jump from NAIA to NCAA Division II.
Anderson will face its first road test of the year two days later when it travels to North Greenville. The September matchup will mark the first time since 2009 the Trojans will square off against the Crusaders when both teams were members of Conference Carolinas.
“For me, I like opening up at home,” Traquair said. “Obviously my goal is begin the year with two victories against two local rivals.”
After facing two in-state opponents, the Black and Gold return home and welcome Sunshine State Conference opponent Florida Southern, marking the second straight season AU will host a team from Florida after hosting Rollins in 2013. In the teams’ last meeting in 2012, Anderson and FSC played to a scoreless draw on the final day of the Columbus State Collegiate Invitational.
Following the nonconference showdown with Florida Southern, the Trojans will hit the road for three straight contests beginning on Sept. 13 when they open SAC play with Catawba. In the last four seasons, the AU and Catawba series has been one of the most even rivalries in the conference as the Trojans are 2-2-1 against the Indians, including a 2-2 draw a season ago.
“This will be our first opportunity to right some wrongs from last season,” Traquair said. “It is important to start off the conference schedule on the right foot and to start on the road; it would be fantastic to get a result there. At the college level, I feel its very difficult to win on the road, so to get at least a point would be great.”
With one conference match behind them, the Trojans continue their road stretch with a trip to Georgia College on Sept. 17, looking to avenge a 2-0 setback in 2013, followed by their second SAC match of the year against Coker on Sept. 20. Last season, Anderson came away with a 3-0 shutout over the Cobras in their first season as SAC members.
AU follows the three-match road trip with three straight home contests, as all three matches will feature conference foes that the Trojans settled for ties against. The streak begins on Sept. 24 when Anderson hosts Queens for a 2 p.m. kickoff. After the match with the Royals, the Trojans play host to Mars Hill on Sept. 27 and begin the month of October with a match against Tusculum on Oct. 4. Both MHU and TC played Anderson to scoreless draws in 2013.
On Oct. 8, the Trojans travel to Newberry for an in-state showdown, seeking their first win over the Wolves since joining the conference in 2010. Following the match with the Wolves, the Trojans will have a quick turnaround before returning home to take on Lenoir-Rhyne on Oct. 10.
“This will be a tough conference stretch with all these teams projected to finish in the top bracket of the conference,” Traquair said. “To be in the bracket, we have to beat these teams. These first conference games are very important for us.”
Anderson heads back into its nonconference slate when it heads to Peach Belt Conference opponent Lander for the second straight season on Oct. 15. The Bearcats fended off AU in overtime last season, scoring the match’s only goal in the 99th minute of action. The Trojans conclude a brief two-match road stretch when it visits Lincoln Memorial on Oct. 18.
As AU heads into its final stretch of the regular season, the Trojans will play three of their last four at Trojan Stadium, beginning on Oct. 22 against Brevard. Anderson looks to continue its recent success over the Tornados, as the Black and Gold improved to a perfect 4-0 against BC since becoming conference rivals.
Three days later, Anderson locks up with SAC defending champion Wingate for a 4 p.m. kickoff. The Bulldogs polished off 2013 with a 16-3-4 overall record and advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight when they fell to West Florida, 3-2. AU closes its home slate with Erskine on Oct. 30 as the Trojans seek Beville Cup points, hoping to retain the prestigious award for the third straight year.
The regular season comes to a close on Nov. 1 when Anderson heads to the Volunteer State to take on Carson-Newman. The teams settled for a 1-1 tie a season ago, snapping a streak of two straight regular season wins over the Eagles.
“The schedule sets up for well for us,” Traquair said. “We have a six-game stretch in 18 days and we will rely on our depth.”
The 2014 SAC Championships are scheduled for Nov. 4-9 with the opening round taking place at the higher seeds. The semifinals and final will be held at Manchester Meadows in Rock Hill, S.C.
“The ultimate goal of the season is to make it to Rock Hill,” Traquair said. “If you advance to Rock Hill you give yourself a chance. Everyone there, you’ve faced during the regular season, and then it’s up to me and how the strong the squad is until that point to try and make us successful.”